Dangers and Risks of Scientology

While Scientology promotional materials rarely mention the dangers of practicing Scientology, some Scientology publications - including their required release form - divulge the truth: that Scientology can be dangerous.

Does Scientology kill people?

Clearly, the vast majority of people who have tried Scientology have not died from it. However, a disturbing number of Scientologists have died under suspicious circumstances, and a few former members have reported plots to kill perceived enemies of the organization.

The Scientology Release Form - "The Lisa Clause"

What is "the Lisa Clause"? What rights do Scientologists sign away?

Scientology requires all participants to sign a release form in which they promise never to sue Scientology and specifically permits Scientology staff to hold them in isolation, with no contact with family or friends, for as long as the staffer determines is necessary. The release is sometimes called "the Lisa clause" because Scientology began requiring it in the aftermath of Lisa McPherson's death in Scientology's custody.

The Dangers of the Purification Rundown

What is the Purification Rundown?

The Purification Rundown is an introductory Scientology service in which participants supposedly rid themselves of the lingering effects of drugs they've taken, including both medical and recreational drugs.

How is the Purification Rundown dangerous?

The Purification Rundown involves toxic megadoses of niacin. It also requires participants to spend hours at a time in a sauna, which can also be dangerous. It is not uncommon for children to do the Purification Rundown (I have spoken with a Scientologist who told me she did it when she was three years old), and the effects could be especially hard on their young bodies.

The Dangers of the Introspection Rundown

What is the Introspection Rundown?

The Introspection Rundown is Scientology's treatment for psychosis. While on the Introspection Rundown, the individual is held in isolation, prevented from leaving, and given the silent treatment by those guarding him or her. We know the most about the way the Introspection Rundown was run on Lisa McPherson, a Scientologist who died in Scientology's custody. Lisa was physically held down, force fed, and given prescription sedatives that were illegally prescribed. Since an important part of Scientology is always doing things the same way and in accordance with policy, it's likely that the Introspection Rundown has been fundamentally similar for others who have undergone it.

How is the Introspection Rundown dangerous?

The Introspection Rundown attempts to treat serious mental illness by methods that have not been medically tested, typically carried out by people with little training of any kind and thoroughly inadequate medical training. Force-feeding an uncooperative individual present a serious risk of causing choking. The lack of contact with outsiders and complete secrecy from oversight greatly increase the risk of harm to the individual. Finally, depriving the person of verbal contact can cause further emotional trauma.

The Dangers of Scientology Processing

What is Scientology Processing?

Scientology processing typically means participation in a Scientology auditing session, although there are a few other activities that may be considered processing.

How is Scientology Processing dangerous?

Processing can alter your perceptions and beliefs in ways that aren't immediately obvious to you on a concious level. There is concern that some Scientology processes invoke a hypnotic state, in which the participant may become highly suggestible. Upper-level processing, which involves telepathically auditing the spirits of aliens stuck to your body, can cause severe mental disorientation for some participants.

While most Scientology teachings do not promote suicide (most teachings are purportedly aimed at surviving and thriving), at least one course does seem to suggest suicide. In the Route to Infinity course, which consists of several taped lectures, Hubbard discusses something called Technique 88. In one lecture, he says:

"... Technique 88 takes the body away.

In another lecture in the same course, he says:

"And by the way, people who do run 88 have to furnish their own coffins! We won't furnish those here. You also have to leave a suicide note for the police."

While hundreds of Scientologists have done this course and nearly all of them are still alive, the statement still troubles me.

Does Scientology say it's dangerous?

Various Scientology publications carry claims that the processes involved can be dangerous, especially (but not exclusively) if performed incorrectly.

"All this is on your own responsibility. Anything as powerful as these processes can occasionally flare. If you are fairly stable mentally there is no real danger. But I will not mislead you. A man could go mad simply reading this book. If you see somebody who isn't quite as stable as he thinks he is working with Self Analysis, coax it away from him. ... Don't, then, disabuse yourself of the fact that Self Analysis can send the unstable spinning."
-- from the introduction to Self Analysis, an introductory-level book often sold to new members

Finding and running wrong goals is very destructive and very dangerous to a pc's life and health.
-- HCO Bulletin 7 November 1962, "Wrong Goals, Importance Of Repair Of"

It is fatal to begin any new process on the case designed to change the case if the case is not F/N VGIs.
-- HCO Bulletin 23 August 1971, "Auditor's Rights"

It is unknown how many people have actually been harmed by these dangers.

More Information about the Dangers of Scientology:

Why Are These People Dead, Scientology?

Scientology Release Form - giving up your right to sue Scientology for harming you

A Critical Evaluation of Scientology's TRs (Training Routines)

"Scientology course potentially dangerous, says Oklahoma report", from Narconon Exposed

excerpts from The Introspection Rundown